In 2000, I went to see my eye doctor for a routine exam. As he was checking my eyes, he said, “You have a lump in your throat, you should have that looked at!” I thought that was strange as I stared in the mirror and asked friends, “Do you see a lump?” All responses including my own were no. I made an appointment with my family doctor who ordered an ultrasound. Yes, I did have a tiny-itty-bitty 2cm nodule. He told me, “This is really common in women, 50% of women have them. If it was my wife or daughter I wouldn’t worry about it.” So I didn’t.
In 2004, I moved to Arizona and had a well check with my new family practice doctor. I informed her that I have this nodule and was told not to worry about it. She responded saying, “We should have this checked out anyway.”
I saw an ear, nose and throat doctor who biopsied my nodule and we made an appointment for the next week. When I came back he and a med student took me into one of the back rooms and we all sat down. He had a piece of paper in his hand and he started to read it aloud. Amidst my two-year-old giggling and babbling I heard the words “probable cancer.” All I could do was stare at my son who was playing with his toy. Who was going to take care of my son! He needs me. Oh my god, my husband, my mother, my brother, my sister.
It happened all very fast. Within two days I had a total Thyroidectomy, been positively diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer and then…the next plan was Radioactive Iodine Treatment.
As I sat in my hospital room, my Nuclear Medicine doctor came in with a huge cement block on rolling wheels. He opened it and handed me a tiny pill. He handed it to me and gave me instructions. I swallowed the pill and stayed awake the next twenty four hours drinking 16 ounces of water every hour and sucking on hard candy as I flipped through the hospital television channels. I have to say it was one of the most lonely experiences I have had; from the Biohazard sign on my door to the nurse yelling from afar if I needed anything and her trying to slide my food tray on the floor from the door to my bed. She made it most times.
After that experience I had my body scan.